Xanadu, your neon lights will shine...

Birthdays...when we were growing up, my parents instituted a "birthday party rule."  Birthday PARTIES were every other year...on the "off years," we could invite a friend or two to dinner, or to the movies, and over for cake.  I have no idea where they came up with this idea, but we decided to carry on the tradition with kiddo, too.

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
I had been thinking about one of my teenage birthdays...I think I was 12 or 13.  One of the movie theaters in "the city" was having a special showing of Xanadu.  I think the movie came out a couple of years earlier and I already had my white roller skates and knew all of the songs by heart.  My parents took a few of us down for the movie.  I can't remember much else from that birthday...just Xanadu.

{photo credit olivia-newtonjohn.com}
Please tell me you're a Xanadu fan, too!  I loved all things Olivia Newton-John.  Her voice, her face, her accent, her perfect hair!!!  Remember those thin hair ribbons?  And, that off the shoulder white top?  Oh!  And, that cowgirl outfit?  And Gene Kelly?!?  Oh my gosh...yeah.  I loved Xanadu.

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
In my mind, I was ONJ as Kira....in reality, I was a frizzy-haired girl with braces who was a little (a lot) wobbly on those skates, but man, it was fun to pretend.

decorated cookies: olivia newton-john in Xanadu + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
The week I was thinking about those birthday memories, I got an email from McCormick.  They're celebrating their 125th (!) birthday this month. Did you know September is the most popular month for birthdays?  I didn't, either!

xanadu decorated cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies
To celebrate, McCormick is igniting a conversation about birthdays and asking people all over the globe to share their favorite birthday flavor story.  For every story shared on McCormick's website or social media channels, McCormick will donate $1 to United Way to feed those in need.

In honor of birthday month, they released a new vanilla extract: Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract.
It's luscious and rich...25% stronger than the classic vanilla and the perfect balance between sweet caramel and bourbon-rummy flavors.  It is PERFECT in baked goods...and also to dab a little behind your ears. ♥
McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies

I used it to make Vanilla-Clementine Cut-Outs for the Xanadu-inspired cookies.  The strong vanilla flavor combined with the sweet and fresh clementine is just swoon-worthy.  The cookies also have a little kick of salt that balances out the flavors so well.  I love them almost as much as I love Xanadu. ;)

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Vanilla-Clementine Cut-Out Cookies
{makes about 12 cookies, depending on cutter size}

2 & 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons McCormick Extra Rich Pure Vanilla Extract
zest of one clementine
1 teaspoon clementine juice

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg, vanilla, zest, and juice.  Beat until well combined.  Add in the flour mixture on low speed, mixing until just combined.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Once chilled, roll to 1/4" thick on a surface dusted with flour, and cut with cookie cutters.  If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate.  Place shapes onto parchment-lined cookies sheets.  Freeze the shapes for 5-10 minutes before baking to help retain the shape.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until done.  Cool completely on wire cooling racks before decorating.  Use royal icing to decorate.
xanadu cookies decorating tutorial

What's one of your favorite birthday memories?  Does it involve Xanadu?

xanadu and olivia newton-john decorate cookies + a recipe for vanilla-clementine cut-out cookies

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